Robert Boylan is the author of a fairly sophisticated blog entitled “Scriptural Mormonism,” in which he frequently criticizes “Trinitarians,” especially evangelicals. A check of Boylan’s blog shows that I am mentioned in some 14 posts, mostly in the past twelve months or so. I contacted Boylan through Facebook at the beginning of 2016 asking if he would be interested in some dialogue, but he did not respond. Boylan has said plenty in those posts that merits a response, but here I am going to focus on one in which I am not mentioned.

elohimNote: The day after this article was first posted on June 6, Boylan posted three articles on his blog in response. In the first of those blog articles, Boylan suggested that I should “rework the article” in light of his comments.[1] I have therefore done so instead of posting follow-up responses, as I would normally have done. After I posted a revised version of this article on June 8, Boylan posted two additional responses, which shall be mentioned very briefly in the appropriate places. This article, posted on June 9, is thus the third version of the article.

 

Bokovoy or Boylan?

On May 8, 2016, Boylan posted a piece he titled “David Bokovoy vs. Luke Wilson on the names of God.”[2] Boylan begins as follows:

A couple of years ago, the now-Dr. David E. Bokovoy (PhD, Hebrew Bible [Brandeis]) commented on an article produced by the late Luke Wilson of the Institute for Religious “Research” (anti-Mormons like to use [loosely] the term “research” in the names of their ministries, including Bill McKeever]). The post is no longer online, but I did save it for future use. It contains some interesting material, so I believe it worthwhile to reproduce it here:

The colon at the end of the paragraph indicates that what follows is to be understood as simply reproducing the post by David Bokovoy. The rest of the post exhibits the same tone and perspective, and there is no indication that any of the post other than the introductory paragraph is by Boylan. The reader is thus given to understand that except for that first paragraph David Bokovoy is the author of the post.

As it turns out, David is a friend of mine, so I contacted him about the article. David kindly responded, assuring me that he did not recognize the post attributed to him, that it does not represent his views or feelings toward the Institute for Religious Research, and that I had his permission to state as much in my response to Boylan.

I prefer to think the best of someone until forced to do otherwise by the evidence. It is possible that Boylan thought the material came from Bokovoy and confused him with someone else. Since I cannot prove otherwise, I acknowledge that it is also possible that David wrote part (or even possibly all) of what Boylan presented in his post. In the first version of this post, I suggested the possibility that Bokovoy had written part of the material (presumably the technical comments about divine names) and that it was repurposed by Boylan for his polemical purpose. By that I meant that perhaps Boylan had added the concluding comments, not that he had deliberately altered Bokovoy’s words. Thus, Boylan is mistaken in claiming that this suggestion of mine “is nothing short of accusing me [Boylan] of downright deception.” Again, it is difficult to be sure what in the post is supposed to have come from Bokovoy and what might have been Boylan’s commentary.

What can be fairly said is that Boylan should have requested Bokovoy’s permission to use his comments, if they actually came from Bokovoy, before posting them on his blog. I take David at his word that he did not recognize the post as coming from him, and I therefore concluded that Boylan posted it without asking for permission or checking to make sure it accurately represented Bokovoy’s position. In his reply post, Boylan acknowledges that he did not ask Bokovoy for permission but says that there was nothing wrong with posting it since Bokovoy’s comments appeared “on a public forum” and that it was reproduced “with proper attribution.” However, the comments no longer existed on any public forum and Boylan gave no reference to where the post had originated until I challenged its source.

Since Boylan did not respond to my previous attempt to establish communication between us, I did not attempt to do so before writing this article, though I did send him a message letting him know about it. Boylan responded in less than a day, as noted earlier. He insisted that Bokovoy was the author of the post and claimed to have found the original thread from 2006 in which he says Bokovoy made the quoted comments. Boylan admits the quoted comments cannot be seen in the thread, and he explains:

Unfortunately, due to a change in software and/or some other issue related to the forum, not all of David’s posts have words contained therein, but it does show that Bokovoy was pretty active online against the IRR and did critique Wilson on this and other issues.

Actually, it shows no such thing. I agree that the forum had some technical problems and that text was lost from some of Bokovoy’s posts (and virtually all of his opening post). But there is no evidence in the thread that shows “that Bokovoy was pretty active online against the IRR and did critique Wilson on this and other issues.” The thread is entitled “Jehovah vs. Elohim,”[3] which is an odd title for the content that Boylan attributes to Bokovoy since the name “Jehovah” is never mentioned in Boylan’s post. I suppose Bokovoy’s reference to himself as “the OSACOTIRR” is some sort of allusion to IRR (“official smart-aleck critic of the IRR”?) but beyond that possible allusion I can find no trace of any reference to IRR, Luke Wilson, or Wilson’s article—or even that Bokovoy was commenting on an article at all. I also went through all of the dozens of Bokovoy’s posts on the forum prior to the one Boylan cites, and there is no trace in any of them of any engagement with IRR at all. As for the thread itself, there are 63 response posts in the thread and none of them mentions IRR, Wilson, or any statement from the article. Indeed, the main subject of Boylan’s post, the relation of the name Elohim to El and other cognate forms, is not mentioned anywhere in the thread. Yes, some additional text from those posts were also lost, but a lot of text remains (taking three pages to display online), so the lack of any mention of IRR, Wilson, or the subject of Boylan’s post is striking. So while it is possible that the thread originally contained the comments that Boylan attributes to Bokovoy, the thread as it exists now does not “show” what Boylan says it shows. If anything, the extant evidence from the thread and Bokovoy’s other posts is at least in some tension with Boylan’s claim.

The issue of the timing of the post attributed to Bokovoy also needs to be considered. In his original post, Boylan stated that the material he attributed to Bokovoy was written “a couple of years ago” by “the now-Dr. David E. Bokovoy (PhD, Hebrew Bible [Brandeis]).” The rhetorical point of this introduction would seem quite clear: Bokovoy’s comments about the Hebrew name Elohim represented the views of a scholar who was in the process of completing or had completed his doctorate in the Hebrew Bible at the time he made those comments. (Bokovoy received his PhD in 2012, four years ago.) However, Boylan now says that the source of the post was an online forum post from ten years ago, in 2006. This means that if Bokovoy did write that material, he did so long before he finished his doctoral studies (perhaps even before he began them).

One reason why I was fairly sure even before contacting Bokovoy that he had not written the piece on Boylan’s blog, or at least not all of it, is the comment that appears at the very end:

Honestly, the more I read, the more I shake my head wondering to myself who are these ignorant people promoting themselves as a legitimate institution devoted to the field of religious scholarship?

Since I met David at the FairMormon conference in 2012, and since we became friends there, I knew that he would not have made such a statement (cloaked as a question) “a couple of years ago.” Now Boylan reveals that the post was actually written ten years ago. That eliminates one reason to question the attribution to Bokovoy and makes it more plausible that he simply forgot that he ever wrote it. At the same time, I would hope that Boylan (and his supporters) would understand why it was quite reasonable for me to question that attribution, given the timeline and given Bokovoy’s disavowal of the post.

In part 5 of his response to me, Boylan complains, “Bowman is still engaging in deception (his protestations notwithstanding) in stating that I was the author of the piece.”[4] This is incorrect. What I stated in the previous version of this article, and what I am still saying, is that whoever was the original author of the piece, the post now belongs to Robert Boylan alone, since David Bokovoy has disavowed it and no documentary evidence remains that he had ever written it. By posting the piece under those circumstances, Boylan has tacitly assumed authorial responsibility for it even if he did not write the original version of it. In the remainder of this article, then, I will continue to respond to the post as if it was written by Boylan, again without definitively prejudging the matter of its original author or accusing Boylan of deceit.

 

Boylan vs. the Institute for Religious Research

The article that Boylan’s post criticizes was written in 1993 by Luke Wilson,[5] who passed away in 2007. Wilson was my predecessor as the executive director of the Institute for Religious Research. I have been at IRR since September 2008, almost eight years now.

Boylan’s post is harshly critical of IRR. In addition to the above quoted comment, he accuses IRR of “incompetence” and describes IRR’s article on the names of God as “embarrassing” and “demonstrates the same sort of cognitive dissonance for which their Institute is now famous.” I confess to some bemusement at a Mormon apologist accusing evangelical critics of cognitive dissonance—and it gets even funnier. Before we can get the joke, however, we must first take Boylan seriously enough to examine his arguments.

 

On the Name Elohim: Of Gnats and Camels

Boylan finds fault with Luke Wilson’s article on the names of God with regard to two points: (1) the statement that many scholars relate the Hebrew name Elohim to El; and (2) the statement that the form Elohim is unique to monotheistic Israel and was not used by its polytheistic neighbors. That’s it. I invite anyone interested in the subject to read the entire article and see whether these are even close to major points or premises of its argumentation. Still, let’s look at these criticisms one at a time and see what we find.

Boylan asserts confidently, “The reality is that no scholar in the world believes that Elohim is related to the Hebrew word El.” To prove his point, Boylan quotes one scholar, Dennis Pardee. Yet the statement quoted by Boylan from Pardee’s dictionary entry on the Hebrew word Eloah doesn’t even deny a relationship between the words Elohim and El. In fact, on the very same page of Pardee’s entry that Boylan quoted, Pardee contradicts his confident assertion:

The Hebrew word ’ĕlōah is derived from a base ’ilāh-, perhaps a secondary form of the Common Semitic word ’il-, ‘god’…. There can be no doubt that the more common biblical and Jewish designation of “god” as Elohim represents an expansion of Eloah, though there is debate both as to the “meaning” of Eloah and as to the origin of the expanded form.[6]

Pardee does say that Elohim derived from Eloah, as Boylan points out. Boylan quotes the last sentence shown above to make this point. However, earlier on the same page Pardee also says that Eloah is derived from ’ilāh-, which in turn may be another form of ’il-, the simplest of these words translated “god” or “God.” But ’il– is just another form of El! So the one scholar that Boylan quotes to prove that “no scholar in the world believes that Elohim is related to the Hebrew word El” contradicts Boylan’s claim.

Other scholars have stated quite plainly that the Hebrew words El and Elohim are related. One unimpeachable example is Mark S. Smith, an Old Testament scholar who earned his Ph.D. from Yale and who chairs Bible and Ancient Near Eastern Studies at New York University. Here is what Smith said in a 2008 academic work:

To help clarify what was meant by “god” or “goddess,” we should explore the terms that the ancient writers themselves used for deities. The main rubric is the Hebrew word, ’el, and its two plural forms, ’elim and ’elohim (as well as the singular, ’eloah, which was secondarily formed from the plural, ’elohim). Cognate literatures show comparable forms, such as Ugaritic ’il (plural ’ilm), and Akkadian ilu (plura ilu, ilanu).[7]

That ought to settle it: there is at least one scholar who does think that El and Elohim are related. In fact, Smith takes the view that Eloah derived from Elohim, rather than the other way around, as Pardee had earlier stated. The lines of derivation do seem to be a matter of some discussion in Hebrew studies.[8] However, that the names El and Elohim are related is not controversial in the least.

Finally on this first point, I cannot resist quoting one more work, which also agrees that El and Elohim are related:

ELOHIM. The commonly used term for ‘God’ or ‘gods’ in the Hebrew Bible is elohim, a plural form whose singular is eloah or el and has the meaning of “lofty one” or “exalted one.”[9]

The above statement comes from the article on the names and titles of God the Father in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism. Perhaps Boylan would like to publish a follow-up post in which he expresses disdain for its scholarship.

Boylan’s second criticism has some merit depending on how narrowly or broadly one takes the statement made by Wilson in his article. As quoted above, Mark Smith mentions that literature in cognate languages (i.e., languages closely related to Hebrew) does have similar forms to the names El, Eloah, and Elohim. Other scholars have made the same point. However, Wilson may have been making the narrower point that the specific form Elohim is unique to Hebrew. This point has been made in bona fide scholarly reference works.

For example, the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, which Wilson cited in support in the article Boylan criticized, stated that “the form ’elōhîm occurs only in Hebrew and in no other Semitic language, not even in Biblical Aramaic.”[10] More recently, the New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology & Exegesis, published in 1997, asserted flatly, “Elohim is not attested outside of the OT.”[11]

Are the scholars responsible for these statements “incompetent” and “ignorant people”? One could argue that some qualification noting the similar forms in cognate languages would have been appropriate, but that is a rather mild, picayune criticism.

To review: Boylan made just two criticisms of relatively minor statements about Elohim made in Luke Wilson’s article. The first criticism was completely unjustified and in fact utterly false: scholars generally view the names El and Elohim as related, as even the one scholar Boylan quoted indicated. The second criticism was at best noting a minor qualification that would have been worth making, and not any sort of egregious error.

We should all be open to substantive critique of our work, since none of us is perfect. IRR’s standing policy is to welcome such criticism of our resources, since we want to be as accurate and fair as possible in everything that we say. Boylan’s blog post, however, does not qualify as a helpful critique. Even the individual to whom Boylan attributes the post, David Bokovoy, has disavowed its contents. Boylan’s post, whoever wrote it, is in fact the very sort of ill-informed attack that he erroneously claimed Luke Wilson’s article of more than twenty years ago was.

One thing Boylan was not ready to do on short notice in response to the original version of this article was to defend the substance of his original post’s arguments against Wilson’s comments about Elohim. He explained that he was getting ready to undergo surgery soon and would get to those substantive issues when he could. In Part 4, Boylan complains, “It appears that Robert Bowman views this as an excuse not to interact with the rest of his article.”[12] This is most decidedly not the case. I hope all goes well with his surgery. I do think, though, that since he is not yet prepared to defend any of the substantive criticisms made in his original post, it would have been better if he had simply acknowledged my article, stated that he would have to wait until after his surgery and recovery before attempting a response, and left it at that. Instead Boylan has chosen to post five articles with long reams of material criticizing me and other evangelicals on other subjects.

 

Joseph Smith on Elohim as “Gods”

The reason Wilson’s article was the object of a Mormon apologist’s ire is its critique of Joseph Smith’s claim that Elohim in the Old Testament, traditionally translated in almost all occurrences as “God,” should be translated “Gods.” Boylan complains:

IRR attempts to belittle the Prophet Joseph Smith for not understanding several grammatical rules associated with Biblical Hebrew…. If you’re wondering right about now, how IRR can get away with making fun of Joseph Smith for not understanding Hebrew grammar while making these types of fundamental errors, believe me, so am I!

One searches Wilson’s article in vain for any statement “making fun of Joseph Smith” for any reason. Here is the only statement in the article that criticizes Joseph’s knowledge of Hebrew:

Joseph Smith revealed his superficial understanding of Hebrew by arguing that Elohim must be translated “Gods” on the basis of its plural form. He showed no understanding of the elementary fact that it is consistently used with singular verbs, adjectives and pronouns when referring to the true God, and the implications of this usage.

The basis for Boylan’s characterization of Wilson’s article is so thin that it is not surprising that Boylan did not choose to quote the supposedly offensive statement. The other likely reason for the absence of any quotation of Wilson’s statement is that Boylan did not wish to acknowledge the actual issue that Joseph Smith misunderstood. Instead of responding to Wilson’s point about the use of singular verbs, adjectives, and pronouns with Elohim when used as a name for God, Boylan nitpicked extraneous background observations about the relation of Elohim to other forms (and even that nitpicking was erroneous, as explained above).

Of course, there really wasn’t anything Boylan could say to defend Joseph Smith on the relevant point, since Wilson’s criticism is absolutely valid. Grammatically, the use of singular words in grammatical association with Elohim clearly and unequivocally signals to the reader that Elohim is being treated as singular in meaning. The point has occasionally been acknowledged by Mormon scholars. For example, LDS scholars Ryan Conrad Davis and Paul Y. Hoskisson comment, “Throughout Genesis 1, whenever elohim governs a verb, the verb is invariably a third person singular form.”[13] For this and several other reasons, Joseph Smith’s claim that Elohim should be translated as “Gods” in such texts as Genesis 1:1 (“In the beginning Elohim created the heavens and the earth”) is utterly false and indefensible.[14] Joseph’s handling of Genesis 1:1, which changed more than once over the course of his 15-year career as the Mormon prophet, was the result of his changing theology. The resulting different versions of Genesis 1:1 in Joseph’s teachings cannot be harmonized with each other, let alone with the grammar of the Hebrew text.[15]

Boylan also posted as the third of his pieces in response to mine a “Bibliography on Elohim and Genesis 1:1 in the King Follett Discourse.”[16] It’s a useful roundup of all-Mormon sources, but they do not offer a cogent response to the evidence that Joseph Smith’s view of Genesis 1 is inconsistent with the fact that Elohim in such passages as Genesis 1 is used as a name with a singular referent. As it turns out, Boylan himself agrees. In Part 4 of his response, Boylan writes:

Maybe Bowman (and some LDS with fundamentalist leanings) will raise some eyebrows here, but I am not going to defend Joseph’s interpretation of Gen 1:1 and אֱלֹהִים as, within the realm of the historical-grammatical method (which I privilege), it does not hold up (I don’t hold to prophetic infallibility, so such is like water off a duck’s back for me), but only explaining the possible reasons behind such, coupled with Joseph’s a priori assumption, even outside seeking biblical support, of a council of Gods/plurality of the Gods doctrine.

So, four articles into his series of articles responding to this one, Boylan admits that the central point made by Luke Wilson about Joseph Smith’s handling of the Hebrew is indefensible. He sloughs off the problem as merely reflective of the LDS principle that prophets are not infallible. I won’t get into that issue here, but simply note that Boylan has, to his credit, acknowledged that Joseph was wrong about the Hebrew word Elohim.

 

Cognitive Dissonance?

At the end of his second post responding to the original version of this article, Boylan quotes an unnamed friend of his as taking issue with my reference to the article by Huggins:

Bowman is pushing Huggins point too far that the various interpretations Joseph gave cannot be reconciled. The assumption is based on implicit evangelical bias. They *do not* have to be reconciled with each other. As the Talmudic phrase goes, the Torah has seventy faces, meaning that there are multiple facets and interpretations, each revealing something else. One 19th century Moroccan rabbi even wrote a book of two hundred interpretations of Genesis 1:1 alone. This removes the sting from Bowman’s theological critique. Sola scriptura is just not how we roll.[17]

Well! Boylan’s article argued that Luke Wilson’s article was wrong, ignorant, incompetent, embarrassing, and indicative of “cognitive dissonance.” (If he ever explained where the cognitive dissonance displayed itself in Wilson’s article, I missed it.) Yet now Boylan, citing his anonymous friend, defends Joseph Smith’s theological evolution through various rationally conflicting interpretations of Genesis 1 and of the nature of deity by declaring cheerfully that “they do not have to be reconciled with each other.” Apparently 200 different interpretations of Genesis 1:1 are all just fine, but the 201st interpretation, advocated by orthodox Christians like Wilson, Huggins, and yours truly, is not acceptable. If there can be 200 different acceptable interpretations of Genesis 1:1, or even three, one would think that what Wilson said about one of the words in Genesis 1:1, Elohim, could also be one of many valid interpretations of that name. But no, according to Boylan, what Wilson said was wrong, ignorant, and so on, and “no scholar in the world” would ever agree with it (a claim that was itself wrong, as I have documented).

In Part 5 of his series of articles responding to me, Boylan quotes the above three paragraphs and then claims that I missed his point—without engaging anything I said or defending his friend’s comment. Instead, Boylan insists that he does not admire cognitive dissonance (which is good to hear) and then tries to turn the table by arguing that I am “engaging in projection.” His evidence is that “Bowman has a track record of embarrassing himself in debate” because in the “few public debates” I have done I “lost—badly.” I won’t bother defending my “track record” in debates, but it doesn’t matter because this has nothing to do with cognitive dissonance. I will also resist the temptation to give answers here to false statements he makes about those debates, though I will probably do so elsewhere. Boylan is especially critical of my part in the debate about the Trinity with Christadelphian Dave Burke; he devotes considerable space in Part 5 to attacking my views in that debate. This is somewhat peculiar since as a Mormon one would think that Boylan would agree more with Trinitarians than with Christadelphians in the debate. Christadelphians are Unitarians; they deny the preexistence of Christ, deny that he is God or even a God, and deny that the Holy Spirit is a person. In all these ways Mormonism agrees with Trinitarianism and disagrees with Unitarianism. For example, Unitarianism is roundly condemned in the Book of Mormon, but Trinitarianism is not. Later Mormon theology disagrees with Trinitarianism in important ways, but its disagreements with Unitarianism run even deeper. Yet Boylan is scornful of my objections to Burke’s Unitarian views and my defense of doctrinal claims that Mormons usually say they affirm. This otherwise surprising attitude is consistent with the fact that criticizing Trinitarianism, especially evangelical Trinitarianism, is the focus of much of Boylan’s blog.

Boylan then lists several online forum threads in which Mormons and I disagreed with one another; Boylan characterizes all of these discussions as ones in which the Mormons “refuted” me. Again, I will resist the temptation to defend my part in those discussions. They have no relevance to the issue I raised in response to Boylan’s quotation from his anonymous friend celebrating the impossibility of harmonizing Joseph Smith’s various conflicting interpretations of Genesis 1:1.

Boylan ends his diatribe by claiming that I am the one suffering from cognitive dissonance because I accept the inerrancy of Scripture despite various things in the Bible that skeptics like to ridicule. One of these things that Boylan lists is “Flying man who rose from the dead,” which appears to be a reference to the resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ. If that is what Boylan means, this is a singularly odd item for a Mormon to list as evidence of cognitive dissonance, since Mormonism certainly affirms that Jesus literally rose from the dead and ascended into heaven. (If anything, some Mormons might take the ascension even more literally than evangelicals, since heaven is generally regarded as a spatial location in Mormon cosmology!) I can understand a skeptic making such an accusation, but Mormons, at least when they are not attacking evangelicalism, profess to accept the Bible’s historical accounts as literal fact.

“Cognitive dissonance” refers to a psychological state of mind arising “when a person holds two or more cognitions that are inconsistent with each other.”[18] In religion, oddly enough, many people regard adherence to inconsistent cognitions (ideas, beliefs) as spiritually admirable, and they speak disparagingly of the conservative believer who is so stuck in the epistemological mud as to think that an idea and any idea that contradicts it cannot both be true. I am glad that Robert Boylan says he does not admire cognitive dissonance. I am also glad that he agrees that Joseph Smith’s interpretation of Elohim in Genesis 1 as a numerical plural referring to “the Gods” is indefensible grammatically. Given these commendable agreements, perhaps Boylan should simply disavow his anonymous friend’s claim that Joseph’s conflicting views should be celebrated as reflecting the multifaceted nature of religious truth.

 

NOTES

[1] Robert Boylan, “Response to Robert Bowman, Part 1: Bokovoy or Boylan?” Scriptural Mormonism (blog), 7 June 2016.

[2] Robert Boylan, “David Bokovoy vs. Luke Wilson on the names of God,” Scriptural Mormonism (blog), 8 May 2016.

[3] David Bokovoy, et. al., “Jehovah vs. Elohim,” Mormon Dialogue and Discussion Board, started 6 Aug. 2006.

[4] Robert Boylan, “Response to Robert Bowman, Part 5: Cognitive Dissonance and Projection,” Scriptural Mormonism (blog), 9 June 2016.

[5] Luke P. Wilson and Roger P. Hansen, “The Names of God in the Old Testament: The Implications for the Mormon Doctrine of Deity,” Institute for Religious Research, 1993. Wilson’s co-author, Roger Hansen, is IRR’s founder and president.

[6] Dennis Pardee, “Eloah,” in Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible, edited by Karel van der Toorn, Bob Becking, and Pieter W. van der Horst, 2nd ed. (Leiden: Brill; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999), 285.

[7] Mark S. Smith, God in Translation: Deities in Cross-Cultural Discourse in the Biblical World (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008), 11.

[8] See, e.g., Helmer Ringgren, “’Elohim,” in Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament, edited by G. Johannes Botterweck and Helmer Ringgren, trans. John T. Willis, rev. ed. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1977), 1:273. [Comment added July 2, 2016: Oddly, in a Part 6 posted on June 22 (13 days after the last time this article was updated), Boylan quoted at length from this page of Ringgren’s article in disagreement with my comments about the relationship among the words translated “God,” but without mentioning that I had already cited that very page. This was all Boylan offered in his Part 6.]

[9] Glade L. Burgon, “God the Father: Names and Titles,” in Encyclopedia of Mormonism, edited by Daniel H. Ludlow (New York: Macmillan, 1992), 2:550.

[10] Jack B. Scott, “’Elōhîm,” in Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, edited by R. Laird Harris, associate editors Gleason L. Archer Jr. and Bruce K. Waltke (Chicago: Moody Press, 1980), 44.

[11] Terence E. Fretheim, “’Elōhîm,” in New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology & Exegesis, gen. ed. Willem A. VanGemeren (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1997), 405.

[12] Robert Boylan, “Response to Robert Bowman, Part 4: Joseph Smith, Elohim, and Genesis 1:1,” Scriptural Mormonism (blog), 8 June 2016.

[13] Ryan Conrad Davis and Paul Y. Hoskisson, “Usage of the Title Elohim,” Religious Educator 14/1 (2013): 109–127. Curiously, Davis and Hoskisson offered no explanation for how this observation was to be reconciled with Joseph Smith’s interpretation of Genesis 1.

[14] See Robert M. Bowman Jr., “Elohim in Genesis 1: God or Gods?” (Grand Rapids: IRR, 2010).

[15] Ronald V. Huggins, “Joseph Smith and the First Verse of the Bible,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 46/1 (March 2003): 29-52.

[16] Robert Boylan, “Response to Robert Bowman, Part 3: Bibliography on Elohim and Genesis 1:1 in the King Follett Discourse,” Scriptural Mormonism (blog), 7 June 2016.

[17] Quoted in Robert Boylan, “Response to Robert Bowman, Part 2: Sola Scriptura Presuppositions,” Scriptural Mormonism (blog), 7 June 2016.

[18] Joel Cooper and Amir Goren, “Cognitive Dissonance Theory,” in Encyclopedia of Social Psychology, edited by Roy F. Baumeister and Kathleen D. Vohs (Los Angeles: SAGE Publications, 2007), 1:149 (149-53).

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